The Dual Montenegrin Alphabets

Both Cyrillic and Latin alphabets are used in Montenegrin. The Cyrillic alphabet is considered official, but the Latin alphabet seems to be more popular in non-formal communication.

Pronunciation is actually quite simple because words are pronounced exactly as they are written. However, it is necessary to learn how to pronounce each letter. English speakers find some letters difficult to pronounce (such as Č, Dž, Ž, Lj). Sometimes it is hard to tell the difference between Č and Ć, Đ and Dž and Š and Ž.

Both the Latin and Cyrillic alphabets have 30 letters and when it comes to pronunciation, they don’t differ from each other. The main difference is in the way the letters are written: when you pronounce Cyrillic letters, they sound the same as Latin letters, but they look different in written form. For example, “Lj” in Latin and “Љ” in Cyrillic are one same consonant.

Montenegrin “ABECEDA” – Latin

A B C Č Ć D Dž Đ E F G H I J K L Lj M N Nj O P R S Š T U V Z Ž

Montenegrin “AZBUKA” – Cyrillic

А Б В Г Д Ђ Е Ж З И Ј К Л Љ М Н Њ О П Р С Т Ћ У Ф Х Ц Ч Џ Ш

Montenegrin Pronunciation Guide

A as in admire
B as in big
Č as in church
Ć as in chocolate
C as in Switzerland
Đ as in cage
D as in daughter
Dž as in jump
E as in egg
F as in fork
G as in God
H as in hole
I as in India
J as in you
K as in key
L as in long
LJ as in prelude
M as in main
N as in nothing
NJ as in nyuk
O as in sport
P as in pass
R as in road
S as in sound
Š as in sure
T as in taxi
U as in rule
V as in vine
Ž as in beige
Z as in zero

Vowels in Montenegrin

A – as in “artificial”

E – as in “estimate”

I – as in “spleen”

O – as in “floor”

U – as in “took”

Padeži

The most difficult thing for foreigners who want to learn Montenegrin/Serbian is “padeži”. To speak the language, you have to know which padež to use for each word. Padeži represent different forms of one word, and these forms are determined by specific “questions”.

Padeži in Montenegrin are:

Nominative – this form is the answer to questions: Who?; What?
Genitive – From whom? From what? Whose?
Dative – To whom? To what?
Accusative – Whom? What?
Vocative – Hey ….. !
Instrumental – With/by whom/what?
Locative – In/on what/whom? Where?

We will try to make this easier to understand.

NOMINATIVE

My name is Max. In Montenegrin, Max (as you see it in this sentence) is a noun in Nominative and it is the answer to the question “What/Who?” WHAT is my name? WHO am I? The answers are “My name is Max; I am Max”. In Montenegrin, it is “Moje ime je Max; Ja sam Max”.

GENITIVE

I got this from Max. FROM WHOM? In Montenegrin, it is “Ovo sam dobio od MaxA.” This “A” you see at the end of the word “Max” is determined by the “padež”.

Genitive sometimes expresses belonging. “This is King Alexander’s Boulevard.” WHOSE?/OF WHOM/WHAT? (This is how most streets get their names.)

DATIVE

Give that to Max. In Montenegrin: “Daj to MaxU.” The “U” at the end of the word “Max” is determined by the question “to whom?”

ACCUSATIVE

You should meet Max. WHOM/WHO?  In Montenegrin: “Treba da upoznas MaxA.”

VOCATIVE

“Hey, Max, look at this!” You use Vocative when you address someone (by his/her name). It is commonly used without “hey”, so the sentence can also be “Max, look at this!”

INSTRUMENTAL

It is used to express accompaniment or means.

“I am here with Max.” WITH WHOM? In Montenegrin: “Ovde sam sa MaxOM”.

“I am traveling by car”. Here, you use Instrumental to express means.

LOCATIVE

Locative is mostly used with prepositions of place (at, on and in), although there can be sentences that have words in Locative, but no prepositions.

He was standing in the hall. WHERE? In Montenegrin: “Stajao je u hodnikU.” The word “hodnik” (hall) has the “U” at the end when used in Locative.

* I am talking ABOUT the hall. – This is also locative. In Montenegrin: “Govorim O hodnikU”.

The language uses suffixes for nearly all words, depending on the gender (similar to suffixes used for plural of nouns). Adjectives (and in some cases even adverbs) change depending on the gender.

Related Languages

Montenegrin belongs to the group of Slavic languages. It is very similar to Serbian, Bosnian and Croatian, although there are certain differences, mostly related to pronunciation. Croatian is a bit different from Montenegrin, Bosnian and Serbian. For example, for the word “story/floor”, Montenegrins, Serbs and Bosnians will use “sprat”, but Croatians will use the word “kat”. There are many other examples similar to this one.

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